Top 10 Cartagena, Colombia Things to Do
Cartagena, Colombia captured my attention 10+ years ago when I first moved to Atlanta, GA. When I worked in Oil & Gas as a Chief Audit Executive, I saw pictures of Cartagena from the Sales Vice President who visited Cartagena for a sales conference. I immediately knew and said I would visit.
In 2022, my visit to Cartagena, Colombia is a reality.
I am not surprised that Cartagena is one of the most visited cities in the Americas for tourists, digital nomads, and lifestyle entrepreneurs.
Cartagena located in Colombia's Caribbean coast is known for its Walled City, Getsemani picturesque neighborhood, and colorful history dating back to 4,000 BC.
Cartagena is one of those cities where you may experience with all your senses within small distances. As you walk the streets of the Old City, you will catch glimpses of the culture of Palenqueras - Afro-Colombian women in bright dresses selling fruit in Cartagena’s plazas.
No matter whether you wander through the Walled City or Getsemani, it is an absolute photographer's and Instagrammer's dream with the vibrant colors and colonial architecture. As you wander past the Walled City, you will see the juxtaposition between the old and new.
Don't forget to add in a beach day or two with nearby Rosario Islands (or maybe even stay at a private island!)
Taking in sunsets from the rooftops, castles, and nearby beaches with breathtaking views is a must in Cartagena.
Whether you will spend one day in Cartagena, or a week like I did, you will love it.
It's not easy to narrow down Cartagena, Colombia to a Top 10 Things to Do, but here goes!
My Cartagena, Colombia Things to Do includes:
Visiting Walled City
Strolling through Getsemani
Marveling at the beautiful churches
Soaking in the sunset on rooftops
Taking a day trip to Rosario Islands
Learning about history at Museo Naval
Walking on the grounds of Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas
Doing a photoshoot walk in the Old City
Walking across the bridge and along the water to Manga or Bocagrande
Enjoying foodie favorites like fresh juices, coconut treats, seafood, and cafes
Cartagena, Colombia will capture your spirit, soul, mind and body with its history, culture, beauty, and experiences.
Cartagena, Colombia Highlights
Lies in the Northern Caribbean part of Colombia
Famous for its Old City, Getsemani, and Rosario Islands
Highly Walkable city between Old City and Getsemani - 1-3km
Archaeologists believe humans lived in the region around 4,000 BC - Puerto Hormiga culture
City of Cartagena de Indias, named after the Spanish city Cartagena, founded on June 1, 1533
Discovery of riches in Sinu tribe tombs helped the city flourish after a fire in 1552
16th Century - Wall and Fortress is built for Cartagena's protection
17th Century - King of Spain ordered Cartagena to become a slave trade center
UNESCO-recognized village San Basilio Palenqueras are the first freed slaves in the Americas.
Cartagena is in the middle of the British and Spanish War leading to be highly protected
In 1811, Cartagena is the first city to declare independence twice - ultimately succeeding.
Boasts triple tourism rates from 1 million foreign visitors per year in 2006 to 2 million in 2019
All shots are my own on Canon EOSM100, Sony A330, and/or my iPhone 13 or via Airbnb.
Travel to Cartagena, Colombia
Travel to Cartagena is easy whether you are traveling internationally or from within Colombia, or South America. Rafael Nunez International Airport offers flights with Delta, American, Copa. Spirit, Jet Blue, VivaAir, Wingo, and more.
I flew from Medellin on Viva for $50 USD. Since my flight was within Colombia, all I needed to show was my Passport and Vaccination Card. For international flights to Colombia and from Colombia, a Mig Form Registration Online is required for COVID currently.
Where I Stayed in Cartagena, Colombia
The first Airbnb i booked was in Manga, about 1-2 km walking from the Walled City. When I booked at La Vie en Rose, I thought I would stay in Cartagena for 5 days. It is easy to walk from Manga across the bridge right to Getsemani, and a little further to the Walled City.
However, both because of all the city has to offer and with flight logistics to fly to Bocos del Toros for a press trip in Panama and brand project, plans changed. By the time I realized with the flights to Panama, the room at La Vie en Rose was already booked. So, I moved to the Old City for my last two nights.
I found an Airbnb in Cartagena in the Walled City that is an adorable two-story loft right in the center of the city in the back of Cafe de la Manana with breakfast included* for the two additional nights.
I loved being in the center of the Wall City and footsteps from almost everything. Whether I wanted to visit museums, churches, or wander the colonial streets, it is all minutes from Cafe de la Manana.
Top 10 Cartagena, Colombia Things to Do
Cartagena offers much more than what I share in my Top 10 Cartagena, Colombia Things to Do. Cartagena is my favorite out of the three cities I visited in Colombia. Of course, I did enjoy travel to Bogota and experiencing Medellin, the city of eternal spring.
At the same time, Cartagena captures you like very few cities I have experienced in the world.
I spent a week in Cartagena, and could have easily stayed longer.
Whether you spend a day, a week, or months in Cartagena, always make any travels your own!